Ossie's tale

The story of Ossie Ardiles is worth retelling. Osvaldo Ardiles was one of the stars of the World Cup winning team of Argentina. He came to England, made his home there, became one of the superstars of Tottenham Hotspurs famous soccer football team (current holders of the Football Association Cup) and proved one of the most popular soccer players in Britain.

Last year Ossie Ardiles, an Argentine army reservist, returned to South America. He had to stand by his country in the Falklands conflict. Later he played for Argentina in the 1982 World Cup.

He was still under contract to the famous 'Spurs. But the English team manager allowed him, when he felt his soccer future was in Europe, to transfer to the Paris team, St. Germain.

Ossie was not very happy in Paris. He didn't even play very well for the French side. His two boys, seven and four, kept asking when they were going ''home,'' meaning back to England.

In January 1983, Osvaldo Ardiles, his wife and family were reunited back in England and Ossie returned to the 'Spurs. He was a little anxious as to what kind of reception awaited him. Almost the very day he came back Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of the United Kingdom, landed in Port Stanley in the Falklands, otherwise the Malvinas.

The Ardiles family landed at London's Heathrow airport and made their way to their small house in the outer London suburb of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. They found everything exactly as they had left it. The house had been cleaned, and the house plants watered, by a neighbor.

There was no unwelcome mail, no unpaid bills, no outstanding ''rates'' (local property and water taxes). An English friend of Ossie's, with whom he had left two books of signed checks, had collected the mail and paid every bill while the family was away.

For the first match after his return Ossie Ardiles played for the Tottenham Hotspur Reserves. The crowd was as big as for a first-team match, if not bigger.

Ossie's reception by the crowd was tremendous. He was, and remains, one of England's favorite footballers - a shy man, a nice man, a man of character and a patriot. Also a man with good neighbors.

One shouldn't make too much of this quite simple story. But, as I said, is it not worth retelling?

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